Thursday, 30 April 2020

A Moment To Look At The Blue Sky with Gunjou no Sekai's 'Aozora Moment' (Single Review)

*All thoughts and opinions are my own, and you are in no way obligated to agree with me. I have my preferences, you have yours, but the common ground we have is our love of idols and music. Please respect what it is said, and I will in turn respect your thoughts and opinions. Thank you.

**As a human and not a robot, I am subject to mistakes. Typo's, misspellings and the like are more often than not littered here, so if you find any of them, please let me know and I will do my best to quickly edit it! I try to improve each day with catching out my spelling errors, however I have blunders and do not expect any post I publish to be perfect. I also suck at grammar, so there is that. Punctuation placement is also not my strong-suit. In advance, I thank you for pointing out my errors.

In which Chiima finally reviews her favourite single of 2020, thus far...

Marking the second release for the group - and the first single to be distributed nationally - four member idol group Gunjou no Sekai are ready to paint a picture of the blue sky in Aozora Moment, an upbeat and somewhat orthodox idol release. With seven tracks in total, (five of which are variants of the title song) this release will please those who enjoy the simpler songs in life, and enjoy a little sweetness from their J-pop.

Sophisticated and stylish in all they do, Gunjou no Sekai debuted in December of 2018 and have since released 2 physical singles, as well as 10 digital songs, all of which encompass a variety of sounds. From fresh and pretty to cool and refined, there is something to enjoy from the group that look up at the sky.

Their catchphrase is "Looking up, there is still something missing in the endless blue sky".

I have wanted to review this single since hearing it in full, and whilst I took my sweet time doing it - about 4 days, because this is me we're talking about - I'm glad that I was able to finish it juuuuust before April could end. With it being the release month of the single itself, and with my ability to listen to it in full thanks to it being on Spotify, I'm happy that I could actually achieve this goal, and deliver a review to everyone from a group that I know so little about, and for a single that I am absolutely crazy about right now.

I adore it, and Aozora Moment is currently my favourite single of 2020 thus far. But why is it my favourite, and what is it about the release that makes me enjoy it so much? Well, dear readers, let's log in to our Spotify accounts and give this single a listen, and maybe - juuuust maybe - I will convert you to the world of Gunjou no Sekai's Aozora Moment...

Are you ready? It's time to press play and give this single a whirl. Let's go~

Link: Spotify

Release Date: April 14th, 2020
Price: ¥1,200
Editions: 5 (Type A / Type B / Type C / Type D / Type E)

Type A Track List:

1. Aozora Moment (青空モーメント)
2. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno (夢を語って生きていくの)
3. Chronicle (クロニクル)
4. Aozora Moment (Instrumental ver.)
5. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno (Instrumental ver.)
6. Chronicle (Instrumental ver.)

Type B Track List:

1. Aozora Moment (青空モーメント)
2. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno (夢を語って生きていくの)
3. Aozora Moment (Ichimiya Yui ver.) (青空モーメント (一宮ゆいver))
4. Aozora Moment (Instrumental ver.)

Type C Track List:

1. Aozora Moment (青空モーメント)
2. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno (夢を語って生きていくの)
3. Aozora Moment (Kudou Mika ver.) (青空モーメント (工藤みかver))
4. Aozora Moment (Instrumental ver.)

Type D Track List:

1. Aozora Moment (青空モーメント)
2. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno (夢を語って生きていくの)
3. Aozora Moment (Yokota Fumika ver.) (青空モーメント (横田ふみかver))
4. Aozora Moment (Instrumental ver.)

Type E Track List:

1. Aozora Moment (青空モーメント)
2. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno (夢を語って生きていくの)
3. Aozora Moment (Nagase Rimi ver.) (青空モーメント (長瀬りみver))
4. Aozora Moment (Instrumental ver.)

Aozora Moment
- Single Review -

1. Aozora Moment

Orthodox in sound, Aozora Moment is one of those songs that was created to simply make you happy upon listening to it, and honestly, who wouldn't want that right now? With its youthful sound and hopeful aura, this is the perfect track to blow away those Spring time blues.

It's actually hard to describe just how much I love this song right now, because the amount of devotion I have to it right now is indescribable. I adore Aozora Moment, have spent countless hours listening to it, and have simply obsessed over the song whenever possible. It's become a big part of my recent regime, and is the one song that I acknowledge as my defining track of early 2020.

I love it, it makes me happy, and I can't help but think highly of this incredible song.

Sure, it's a typical idol tune - happy, upbeat and riddled with hopeful tones and cute moments - but it's the sort of tune that came out at the perfect time for me. It's honestly made me so happy whenever I put it on, and the level of excitement I feel upon playing it only increases with each re-play. Yes, this is a fairly subjective feeling to have towards a song, but the amount of delight that Aozora Moment has given me is irreplaceable, and I won't deny just how good it sounds to me as a listener.

It's bright, catchy and full of fun, and I am so freakin' biased towards it that I can only seem to spew good things about it, and I can safely say that this is currently my favourite track of 2020, no contest.

The music video was the catalyst in my love for this song, and whilst I don't watch it that much any more, I did think it was a pretty adorable release, one that reflected the cuteness of the members well. It's a fairly standard music video for an idol group, showcasing their youth and energy pretty well by means of dance shots, running and school uniforms, but it perks you up when you watch it thanks to how bright and refreshing the setting looks.

I think my favourite aspects of Aozora Moment's video are the inclusion of the photo's (to fit the lyrics), as well as the little snapshots of alternative scenes that we are given. It's nice to see a variety in ratio and camera styles here, and delivers a more personal touch that feels friendly and laid back, ultimately juxtaposing the staged idol shots and giving us a snippet into their dynamic as a group.

The PV is enjoyable, however I don't watch it much now because I just want to listen to the song, however I appreciate how sweet the video itself is. I like that personal touch, the different use of ratios and camera styles, and the inclusion of pictures of the members. It's adorable, youthful and appealing, though a tad generic, but that's not really an issue - the orthodox idol is great in its own way, and this PV is ultimately a very charming release.

Aozora Moment is one of my favourite releases from 2020 thus far, and whilst I acknowledge that I have many favourite songs right now - about 150+ of them, if we had to round it up - this is the song that I ultimately acknowledge as my #1 pick. It creates absolute happiness for me, I feel excitement upon hearing it and I just adore every moment I spend listening to it. It's amazing, and Aozora Moment holds a rather special place in my heart at this point in time.

I adore it, simple as that.

In A Nutshell: Aozora Moment creates happiness with its upbeat, orthodox idol sound that feels perfect for spring. It's the perfect song to tide you over for the day, and will certainly give you a much needed dose of youth and cuteness if that's what your looking for.

2. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno

There is something familiar about Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno, and I can't quite place my finger on it. My best explanation - and the only one I can come up with right now - is that this song feels reminiscent of one of the higher quality 48 or 46 tracks, which isn't a bad thing to acknowledge. If anything, I simply feel a little frustrated that I can't pinpoint exactly where I have heard a similar track to this.

(After a quick search for the composer, I have found that Ōnishi Toshiya has, in fact, composed a song for NMB48, however ti sounds vastly different to this one. Go figure.)

Regardless of how similar it sounds to another groups music, I do think that this is a very appealing song. With a strong, memorable sound, Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno is an impressive follow-up that feels a lot more expressive and determined in its sound that Aozora Moment did. It's pretty incredible how different both tracks are, and whilst I still prefer Aozora Moment, I can't help but acknowledge just how cool this track is in comparison, and how much better it is in terms of its composition and style.

The rhythm of this track is a lot of fun, the pacing is fast and the members' vocals seem to vary here in terms of volume and tone. It feels like the members gave it their all in this song, and I love it. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno is such a fun track, and as a follow up it truly showcases the diversity of the members' range and music style. I can't help but feel impressed after hearing this.

With that said, I will round this off by saying that prior to this review, I didn't care for this track. It took a few listens before I finally came to like it, and whilst my first impression is still fresh in my mind, I have come to really enjoy this track and understand its charm. I guess because it's so different to my usual tastes in music, I just couldn't get on board with it right away. Regardless, I am thankful that I took the time to listen to it and pick up on its various aspects - the vocals, how the first and second verse differentiate from each other, as well as the overall rhythm of the song - and I am even happier that I now enjoy it as much as I do, because it is a really good track.

Of the three songs, I do think that this is the strongest on the entire release. It's a big change of pace, but it works in Gunjo no Sekai's favour and allows us to hear a different side to them. Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno is bloody good, and it deserves to be heard, so be sure to check this one out, if anything.

In A Nutshell: The rhythm and pacing is great, and the track itself is the strongest on the single. If there is going to be a song you listen to on this single, please make sure it's this one, because it's impressive.

3. Chronicle (Type A)

Going back to a more orthodox idol sound, Chronicle is a cute and promising number that has the appeal of being an easy listen. Whether it's on in the background or holding your full attention, this track is sure to please thanks to its gentle and sweet tone.

As an idol fan who enjoys the simpler things in music most of the time, I really do love how Chronicle sounds. It's a pretty, gently upbeat pop tube that puts me at ease the moment I hear it, and makes me think of nothing but idol cuteness and simpler days, which I am all for. Ultimately, that's where the songs appeal lies: In its sweet simplicity.

Chronicle doesn't go too hard, nor does it try to be forgettable, and I think that's what makes it the perfect bridge for the previous two tracks. Aozora Moment is bubbly and energetic, a catchy idol pop tune that will grab your attention when you first hear it, whilst Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno commands your attention with its strong presence and rhythmic sound. And smack dab at the end is Chronicle, a rather easy and peaceful listen that soothes your soul, a much needed break from the two tracks that preceded.

After hearing two awesome songs that have such a big sound presence when compared to Chronicle, it actually makes sense to end the single with something like this. It's a gentle finish to what has been a great single, a breather of sorts, and allows you to enjoy the vocals of the members without having to focus as much on the instrumental as you would have done with the other two tracks.

Still, the song has its own merits despite its simplicity compared to the other tracks. There is a great bit of riffing during the instrumental break, and the members have this beautiful, raw quality to their individual vocals, and smooth chorus when singing together. The song is also just pretty in tone and sound, and I love how cute and idol-like it sounds. It makes me happy, puts me at ease and, simply put, I enjoy its 4:26 run. It's a good track.

Sure, Chronicle doesn't go as hard as the other two, but it is still a catchy and memorable piece, and a great mediator for the other two songs. I'm glad this was the last song included on the Type A edition, because it is pretty refreshing all around. I only wish it had been included in two of the other editions of this single, because including it on just one edition is an awful shame. Ah, well.

It's great, and definitely deserves a listen if you want something soothing and sweet to keep you occupied.

In A Nutshell: Whether you put all your focus into the song or keep it on as background noise, Chronicle is a sweet piece that acts as a nice little bridge for the other two tracks. It may not go as hard, and may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is definitely appealing and will

4. Aozora Moment (Solo variants)

Because there are four solo variants of this song - an because I have already reviewed Aozora Moment - I thought it best to lump all of the singers together in one segment of this review, both for the sake of my fingers, and also because you guys probably don't want to see many more words. All that, plus I have doubts I will write more than one or two sentences per member, because previously reviewed and all that jazz.

To start, I think that the addition of member-specific versions of this song is a very cute, fun idea, one that I wish more companies would implement. It gives you a chance to hear the idol in full, and to become aware of her voice and how she sounds. It's also great for if your idol doesn't get as many lines in the group variant of the song, meaning that you can at least have a solo where she gets ~all the lines~.

I can think of a few companies who need to implement this, especially for the idols they screw over by giving barely any lines... **cough**H!P**cough**

Moving on, the first member solo is by Ichimiya Yui, whose solo is available on the Type B variant of the single. Though she is by no means the best singer in the group, she does have a nice tone to her voice, if a bit bland and emotionless at times. Of them all, I think she has the most idol-like voice, as well as one of the more recognisable ones. She sounds pretty, and I do like her version of the song, but I can't deny the fact that I think she sounds a little bit bland.

Kudo Mika is up next, and her solo variant is available with Type C of the single. Of the four members, Mika seems to have the most power in her voice, as well as a more refined quality to her singing. To put it bluntly, she's the best singer of the bunch and has my favourite solo track of the four. She has a nicee tone, her voice is beautiful to hear, and I think that she delivered the best product overall. I really like her version of Aozora Moment, and is the most recognisable singer for me on the single.

On Type D we get Yokota Fumika, who is probably one of the less refined singers of the group, but still cute to hear regardless. I actually really enjoy this version of the song, especially when she sings the verse before the instrumental break, and find it pretty charming overall. I think its a fun solo version, and I swear she has a lisp when singing? Who knows, but if she does, it only adds to absolute cuteness of this solo.

The more I listen to Nagase Rimi's version from Type E, the more I seem to convince myself that she just yells her lines. I could be wrong here, but it's the only version where I think this, and though there are some great moments from Rimi here - such as the second third right before the chorus - I do think that this is the weakest version of the four solo's despite Rimi having a stronger sounding voice. I jut on't care for hers as much as the others, and that's fine, I hope.

In A Nutshell: All four solo variants have their charms, but my personal favourites happen to be Kudo Mika's and Yokota Fumika's, just because.


Aozora Moment has been one of my favourite songs since the PV release, and after much impatience I am so happy that I could finally listen to the entire release in full. I think the only downside that I have with it at the moment is that I'm having to listen to it on Spotify, at least until my copy arrives in the mail.

Of course, it's a small price to pay for the joy that this release brings me.

Moving forward, to say that Aozora Moment has become my Spring anthem is an understatement. It's such a bright, refreshing track, one that I absolutely adore and delight in hearing. It gives me a surge of energy every time, and with each listen I seem to fall in love with it more, because I enjoy it that much. It was unexpected, to say the least, but I'm glad that I have found a song from 2020 that has brought me this much happiness every time it plays.

I think the whole single is fabulous, but Aozora Moment holds a special place in my heart right now. I found it by chance, and like any song it could have been dismissed just after hearing it, but it stuck with me. I don't know what it is about it, but Aozora Moment's simple, orthodox appeal stood out to me, and it won me over after the first listen. I just keep coming back to it, and I have no problem with that at all.

In regards to the other coupling tracks, I will say that they both compliment Aozora Moment well, especially Chronicle. Both songs are just an easy, bright listen that really do make me think of spring time and beautiful blue skies, whilst Yume wo Katatte Ikite Ikuno just feels cool and daring in a way, and contrasts the other two songs nicely. Regardless of which track plays though, they are equally enjoyable and have their own merits. Of course, these songs will appeal to different people; just because they match my tastes does not mean they will match yours.

This is a great release, one that comes with the added bonus of solo versions of Aozora Moment, something I greatly appreciate as a fan of idols. It would be great to see other companies and groups implement this, if only to fuel the fans' desires to hear their favourite member sing a little more.

To fully conclude this review: Jeebus Cripes, I love this release. Now I just gotta wait for my physical copy to arrive in the mail.

Favourite Song: Aozora Moment. Duh.

I have been waiting to use this gif, and right now is the perfect moment. Let's ignore the chaos of the world and jam to some music!

Up until this release, I had no idea who Gunjou no Sekai were, and now I want to know more about them. Sure, this isn't their best release - they have some awesome tunes out there that actually outrank Aozora Moment - but this is the song that made me stop and listen. I adore it, it means a lot to me, and has given me some amazing moments during the days where I was just completely bored or sad. This release, and especially its A-side, moves me, and it keeps me wanting to move forward even when I feel like I'm at a loss for what to do.

It feels weird to already consider this song / release as my strongest candidate for my end of 2020 music list, but hey, it's not exactly surprising, either; the first quarter of the year seems to always deliver the strongest, more memorable tracks... or maybe it's just because I have binged them longer. Either way, it feels weird to think that - just maybe - this will probably be my #1 for 2020.

We will just have to wait and see.

Anyway, once again I would like to thank those who have taken the time to sit down and read through this post, as well as any others on this blog. I truly appreciate it, and I hope that you have considered listening to this release now that you know my excessively positive thoughts on it. And if not, I hope that you still go on to enjoy idols and music, and that you continue doing your best, stay both physically and mentally healthy to the best of your abilities, and continue to think of your own well-being as well as the well-being of those around you.

Take care and stay safe, dear readers. I will see you in the next one.

Much Love,

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